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Genius Loci in the Space-Age
Andreas Vogler, dipl. Arch ETH Architecture+Vision Hohenstaufenstrasse 10 D-80801 MUNICH, Germany email@example.com
Arturo Vittori, architect Architecture+Vision Via del Piano 20 01020 Bomarzo (VT) firstname.lastname@example.org
Munich, 23 November 2006
Genius Loci in the Space-Age Andreas Vogler/Arturo Vittori, www.architectureandvision.com
Abstract: In Roman mythology a Genius loci was the protective spirit of a place. In contemporary usage, "genius loci" usually refers to a location's distinctive atmosphere, or a "spirit of place". The concept of "genius loci" has been discussed in modern architecture, but still is much underestimated. When it comes to extreme environment, the situation is even worse. The problem of sensory deprivation in extreme environments should even result in putting more emphasis on the concept of genius loci. An important part of the 'spirits' of a place are the environmental energies. In space habitats the 'Life Support System' becomes an intrinsic part of the 'atmosphere' of the habitat. On Earth, the use of these energies, not only to make buildings self-sufficient, should enhance the quality of the architecture and our built environment. Humans differently than the other entities of life on our planet are capable to force largescale devastative change on the environment. The need to save our environment for future generations is one of the greatest challenges that humankind must address today. Our buildings are essentially enclosures to protect us from the impact of weather and allow specific activities like residential, office, manufacturing, etc. to take place. Ecologically, a building is a high concentration of materials, manufactured often using non-renewable energy resources, from some distant place and transported to a particular location and assembled into a built form or an infrastructure whose subsequent operations create further environmental consequences. Environmental energies have actively or passively been used through all the building history. Technology today offers a range of energy converters such as solar collectors, photovoltaic cells, wind generators, biological recycling systems and more. Increasing ressource costs of the public infrastructure make the use of these decentralized systems more and more attractive for home owners. Our vision for future buildings is that they will 'live' on local ressources only, and even more help to improve the local environment in terms of air quality, water quality as well as aesthetical quality. The building should be one system within the natural environment, a “Genius Loci”. We believe that designs with limited ressources in extreme environments leads to a much higher respect of nature and the human being and thus is generating a strong drive to improve life on Earth.
...............9 Town Squares in Venice ..................................3 2..............................................................................................................................................1 3....................................................................................................5 How can the genius loci – the spirit of place – been found and created today?........................................3.........................................................................2 3.........................................................................................................................................................14 The ecological accelerator .17 3...............................................3....17 DesertSeal .23 Bibliography:......architectureandvision.....................................................................................................................................................19 The Mercury House Programme....................7 2..........................10 Syrian Adobe Houses ........com 3 Table of Contents 1 2 Introduction...................................16 NASA BioHome ...................................................................................25 Appendix ................................................................2 2.......... www.......................................................................................................19 Conclusion ......Genius Loci in the Space-Age Andreas Vogler/Arturo Vittori.............................1 3..................................11 Harmony with the Environment as an Incentive of a Genius Loci......................................................................4 The concept of Genius Loci .....12 3 The House as the Genius Loci.....................................................................................3 The ecological footprint.............................................................................................2 3......................1 2....................13 3............8 Sassi di Matera................................26 ..........................14 Towards a New Generative Architecture........................................................4 2.........4 4 5 6 7 Conclusion...........................
what is appalling is. food. Yet. 1. Human facing the Earth: Human Spaceflight makes us realize the value of the most basic resources our planet is providing: water. The State of the World report is stating the balance of population growth against poverty as the number one challenge of our world (Starke. balanced temperature and radiation protection.com 4 1 Introduction “The earth is like a spaceship that didn’t come with an operating manual” Buckminster Fuller Figure 1. three more planets would be required to fulfil these demands. air. . it seems not to be possible on a planet. that our planet cannot provide enough resources to feed all of us. However. if every person alive today.architectureandvision. This as such should be alarming. that with the accelerating wealth the industrial societies are accumulating. But we also learn to see the limits of the system. We leave the problems we create by our current life-style to others: in other geographic and/or temporal locations.Genius Loci in the Space-Age Andreas Vogler/Arturo Vittori. almost a quarter of the planets population are classed by the World Bank as living in “absolute poverty”. but the way we treat the resources turns out to be much too wasteful. (source: NASA) Since the beginning of the space age in the late 1950s there is an increasing understanding of our planet as an extraordinary cradle of life in the vast dark universe. where news are distributed real-time and people travel in airplanes and high-speed trains. www. the fragility of the atmosphere and influence the human population has on this closed-loop system. This means living on less than 1 USD a day! It is not necessarily. which receives it’s main driving energy from the sun (Figure 1). A recent study suggests that. 2003).2 billion people. consumed at the rate of an average person in the United States. we exploit the planet with an unappeasable hunger: 20% of the wealthiest people account for 86% of the world’s total private consumption. to prevent people from dying from hunger or polluted water.
which is currently successfully . just like our mother ship ‘Earth’ (Figure 2).com 5 On the other hand we are flying to space and we are realizing how valuable life’s most basic resources are. water. food and energy. www. Already on the moon we hardly find any of it. However. The concept of waste is completely redundant on future long-duration spaceships: just like in nature. Everything has to be transported from Earth to maintain our lifes. which could leapfrog the whole process of investing and maintaining an expensive centralized infrastructure. electricity. systems like this will initially be costly. The industrial societies rely on costly infrastructure. there are system resources in different states of processing. The inflatable MoonBase is powered by solar energy and is using an advanced life support system to recycle all resources needed for living (source: Architecture and Vision).Genius Loci in the Space-Age Andreas Vogler/Arturo Vittori. eventually arriving at a fully closed loop system. telephone and internet right into our apartments and houses and take our waste away seemingly easy. Low-energy and light-weight systems are needed to keep these systems going and make potable water from liquid waste and food from solid waste. systems have to be developed. Its measure of success is quality and complexity of stock (i. Figure 2. Its measure of success is a high through-put. only powered by the sun. Kenneth Boulding (1966) stresses the need to change from a ‘cowboy economy’ to a ‘spaceman economy’. heating. This competitive market would make the systems cheap and will eventually enable a technology jump also for developing countries. No other planet in our solar system has such favourable conditions for life. However.e. The Fraunhofer Institute forecasted a strongly growing market for autonomous systems in private housing. but their spin-off is hitting one of the largest markets of the world: the private housing market. The ‘spaceman economy’ is more of a closed system in a narrow world.architectureandvision. where people are willing to invest into independence from municipal infrastructure and its ever-growing prices for water. He describes the ‘cowboy economy’ as an open system with plenty of world. there is no such thing as a municipal water supplier in a spaceship. which bring us fresh water. waste and energy. but research is going into this direction. which reuse and recycle air. These systems do not yet fully exist. Amortisation times of up to 15 years are well in the scope of a private house owner. A remarkable example for such a technology jump is already existing with the mobile phone. To realize these missions. human bodies and minds). To fly 1 kg of water or air into low Earth orbit costs about 20’000 EUR. it would even be illusionary to transport all supplies for a 2 year mission. For longer missions like going to Mars.
In the last century. www. If the house can be understood in technological and architectural terms as a device or machine ‘producing’ environment and not just consuming it. which are only dependent of solar energy. To solve the environmental issues may at least bring people closer to live more in harmony with their natural environment and in conflict. Also. By easy access to communication they will identify ad-hoc business opportunities and information will substitute a big part of material resources as the mobile phone and internet potentially does today. these technology jumps will easily be possible in our brains. yet we are completely unimaginative. but also help to produce and maintain a clean and healthy environment. it enters a new relationship with the location. when never ever so much money was available. And once they are possible and obvious there. autonomous and recycling space systems. who not just consume their environment. This train of thought can also be seen along the line of Alvin Toffler’s (1981) ‘Third Wave’ society. that technology is too expensive and that there is no money in these markets has disproved by many examples. The underlying thesis of this paper is. we live in a time. that once we think in terms of decentralized.Genius Loci in the Space-Age Andreas Vogler/Arturo Vittori. but also in Ghana and India. If we can generate a holistic architecture.com 6 spreading in developing countries. It allows leaving out the development of landlines completely as it happens currently in rural areas of China. from the place seen as a very specific part of our planet. The often heard argument. These problems are far from being solved in the majority of cities on our planet and stay key issues.architectureandvision. there is a chance we can generate a ‘genius loci’. how to use this money to help poor people leading a decent live and how to prevent our own lives to become much more miserable by the effects of the destruction of our environment. where highly infrastructure dependent consumers become eventually self-producing and independent ‘prosumers’. . they are likely to happen. modern architecture focused in solving social and hygienic issues in our cities.
rather. In an idealist view. lying outside questions of construction and beyond them. never escapable – is what Heidegger called Dasein. places have had a deeply mythological meaning. When certain harmonies have been attained. The purpose of construction is to make things hold together. An average human being is thus processing about 140 tons of ‘world’ during a life time.” it is a “pure creation of the spirit. the relationship between person and world has been reduced to either an idealist or realist perspective. The foundation of a house. Where natural environment is more and more lost. Heidegger (1962) argued that.Genius Loci in the Space-Age Andreas Vogler/Arturo Vittori. First social problems resulted in high-density poor city quarters. the work captures us. Architecture is a mater of “harmonies. or being-in-the-world. being-in-world. In Roman mythology a genius loci was the protective spirit of a place. 1999). Indeed. consisting of food. also the fast growth of the . water and oxygen (Reed & Coulter. There is. The fast growth of cities in the last century. Eliade (1961) is pointing out. Architecture has an eminent role as a key interface and definition of our being-in-the-world. are intimately caught up in and immersed. has been one of the main discussions of philosophy. Heidegger argued that people do not exist apart from the world but.architectureandvision. Architectural emotion exists when the work rings within us in tune with a universe whose laws we obey. a realist view sees the person as a function of the world in that the world acts on the person and he or she reacts. This situation – always given. recognize and respect. On a less philosophical level. We are and we ‚take place’. in other words. It is impossible to ask whether person makes world or world makes person because both exist always together and can only be correctly interpreted in terms of the holistic relationship.” Le Corbusier. at least from the human being’s point of view. It was often depicted as a snake. Instead. an unsolvable unity between people and the world. which is still reminiscence today. in conventional philosophy and psychology. and the application of the ‚modern formula’ quickly resulted in sterile and faceless neighbourhoods. actively knows and shapes his or her world. In Being and Time. Heidegger claimed that both perspectives are out of touch with the nature of human life because they assume a separation and directional relationship between person and world that does not exist in the world of actual lived experience. our relationship and direct exchange with the environment is even more apparent. a phenomenon of the emotions. www. Vers une architecture Human culture is very strongly linked to places. of architecture to move us. Our metabolism has a daily input and output of about 5kg mass. the inseparableness of the human being and the world. architecture takes a key role in creating places and in the best case a ‘genius loci’. With the dawn of rationalism. that in all cultures. this spiritual meaning of a place has been more and more negated. The modern movement in architecture tried to analyse the site based on scientific parameters and their optimization like sun angles and circulation distances. but in fact. the world is a function of a person who acts on the world through consciousness and. In contrast. therefore. which is still continuing today.com 7 2 The concept of Genius Loci Architecture is a thing of art. a settlement or a town has been a religious act.
com 8 single family houses in the agglomeration results in places with no identity. where phenomena refer to things or experiences as human beings experience them. There is more to a place. The understanding of a place. of seeing. Most people are charmed by the specific atmosphere of places. Efforts to rebuilt these places in a different context. which was found in medieval and renaissance cities has been lost! In contemporary usage. hear. "genius loci" usually refers to a location's distinctive atmosphere. It has been Norberg-Schulz (1982) who re-introduced this topic in the modern context. event. of change.Genius Loci in the Space-Age Andreas Vogler/Arturo Vittori. of friendship. taste. Rather. Architecture can neither be only an aesthetical exercise nor a . understand. of blindness. in time. of home. Seamon (2002) defines phenomenology as the exploration and description of phenomena. In other words. or a "spirit of place". however. situation or experience that a person can see. of power. know. of jealousy. of landscape. Places are complex systems and we are still very weak in understanding and dealing with complex systems and their phenomena. www. of place. The genius loci. Norberg-Schulz (1982) was advocating for a ‚phenomenology of architecture’. rather than necessarily a guardian spirit. sensibility. since their making was a complex cultural process. dimensions and materials. of architecture. the phenomenologist pays attention to specific instances of the phenomenon with the hope that these instances. of economy. The architect has to take into account the multitude of these phenomena to be able to create architecture with meaning. of learning. it can only be understood and be taken as a base of knowledge for future developments. These places cannot be reproduced. encounter. feel. but the attempts of the postmodernists to reintroduce it into actually built architecture. did not go beyond a naive an formalistic repetition of long surpassed historic concepts. of colour.1 How can the genius loci – the spirit of place – been found and created today? Many great buildings and places have been measured and analysed to learn about their proportions. than its physical dimensions. The ultimate aim of phenomenological research. which developed over centuries or have been very well planned and seem to convey a unity. touch. A harmony with Human culture and nature.architectureandvision. smell. or live through is a legitimate topic for phenomenological investigation. due respect to it’s nature and the courage to design something new is probably an approach to generate new meaningful places. is not idiosyncratic descriptions of the phenomenon. 2. a rightness and an atmosphere. usually fail. will point toward more general qualities and characteristics that accurately describe the essential nature of the phenomenon as it has presence and meaning in the concrete lives and experiences of human beings. expecially in the modern environment. and so forth. though such descriptions are often an important starting point for existential phenomenology. History can never be revived. the aim is to use these descriptions as a foundation stone from which to discover underlying commonalities that mark the essential core of the phenomenon. of sociability. of travel. of relationship. Any object. There can be a phenomenology of light. perceive intuitively. All of these things are phenomena because human beings can experience. or live through them in some way.
Through a complex watering system. It was the source of live and water. water was led into cisterns usually in courtyards. Matera.Genius Loci in the Space-Age Andreas Vogler/Arturo Vittori.“ The "Sassi" are houses dug into the rock itself. Figure 3. In this the method is very similar to the one of phenomenologists described before. One often used method of architects is to study and personally visit many important places and buildings to be able to synthesise new designs from the scientific investigation of these places.com 9 technological construction to be able to create a ‚genius loci’. These courtyards gave access to a group of dwellings. perfectly adapted to its terrain and ecosystem. and the streets in some parts of the "Sassi" often are located on the rooftops of other houses. and are suspected to be some of the first human settlements in Italy. The ravine is known locally as. Before the city prospered by the agricultural use of the clay plateau above and the water management of the river. like in a spaceship. the so-called "Sassi di Matera" (meaning "stones of Matera").2 Sassi di Matera The UNESCO World heritage is describing the Sassi di Matera (Figure 3) in the South of Italy as the most outstanding. The first inhabited zone dates from the Palaeolithic. which slowly degraded with changing agricultural practice and industrialisation taking place during the last 200 years. the complexity of these phenomena have to be taken into account. 2.architectureandvision. For this. but also evolved into a social structure called la ‘vicinato’ (Figure 4). The Sassi originate from a prehistorical (troglodyte) settlement. known as "Tuffo". intact example of a troglodyte settlement in the Mediterranean region.000 years ago. The ancient town grew in height on one slope of the ravine created by a river that is now all but a small stream. which is characteristic of the regions Basilicata and Puglia. A few examples of places with a specific genius loci shall be described here. but also from the intuitive and personal experience of them. while later settlements illustrate a number of significant stages in human history. .???????) Matera has gained international fame for its ancient town. (source: www. Many of these "houses" are really only caverns. "la Gravina". According to the English Fober's guide Matera is „the only place in the world where people can boast to be still living in the same houses of their ancestors of 9. www. which not only shared access to water and light.
The genius loci of Matera derives from the symbosis of Human culture with the geologic and topographic characteristics of the place. a new kind of activation of the Sassi happened by tourism.D.architectureandvision.Genius Loci in the Space-Age Andreas Vogler/Arturo Vittori. At the height of its power. Since then. The source of live was the fertile fields above the town and the river flowing through it.com 10 The slow. the government of Italy forcefully relocated most of the population of the Sassi to areas of the developing modern city.3 Town Squares in Venice Venice is one of the most admirable examples of a town built in the extreme environment of the salt water lagoons. It was nearly impossible for enemies not knowing the lagoon to invade Venice. Both formed a unity in infrastructure and landscape. Venice became a strong sea power and gradually built a colonial empire that extended throughout much of the eastern Mediterranean area. . The old city of Matera became poor and the hygenic situation unbearable. January 20). 800's. After the old city has been nearly abandoned for decades. The Sassi are served by a complex water management system and developed from simple caves to more complex architectural and social structures as the ‘vicinatos’ (source: UNESCO) 2. theatre and music groups and even high-tech companies. 2006. Figure 4. www. it became a UNESCO World Heritage. progressive and inexorable destruction of the ecosystem caused a breakup of the natural equilibrium of the environment. In the 1950s. The city's location on the Adriatic made it an important trading center as early as the A. who run their server-farms in the naturally cool caves (Sandford.
often overseen by the casual visitor of this city. However. which served people to live for thousands of years are only inhabited by very poor people and ‘aid’ programmes are replacing these huts for prefabricated concrete huts. Today. . Potable water was not available in the salty lagoon and the transport from the mainland was difficult and impossible during war times. The Italian government restricted the use of water from the city's underground wells. Venice also was sinking an average of about 1/5 inch (5 millimeters) yearly until the mid-1970's. Traditional building methods survived in Syria (Figure 5 & Figure 6). This happens in a time.architectureandvision. but also served over centuries to ensure access to potable water for its inhabitants.4 Syrian Adobe Houses People have used adobe to build houses and other structures in desert regions for thousands of years. The bricks will crumble if they are exposed to rain or to periods of freezing temperatures followed by thaws. and the city stopped sinking. A number of scientists believe that the sinking resulted partly from the removal of underground water for use by industries. There is this approach. since potable water comes in duct from the mainlain." Through the centuries. which was filtered by sand and accessible by fountains in the centre of the square. Water pressure then built up under the islands. Traditional adobe houses are covered with mud. but adobe is not suitable for use in cold or damp regions. Thus. www. which are not used anymore today. These piazzas are not only the focus of urban and social life. where in the rich Western world adobe houses are built for the healthy climate. rainwater was collected over the town squares. These squares. which takes the whole character away from the place has it happened to many modern places. The ancient Egyptians and Babylonians used adobe.com 11 Venice was known as the "Queen of the Adriatic. 2. Venice lost much of its economic and political strength. The charm of these houses is in the unity of material and colour with the landscape and the specific shape the adobe construction produced. For our case. floods and polluted air and water threaten to slowly destroy the city. This combination of urban square and actual life support for the inhabitants. formed a unity of urban design and a clever water collection system. than relocating the inhabitants into concrete boxes. gives the piazza special meaning. one of the most remarkable items are the town squares of Venice. there was no other concept seen to raise the hygienic standard of the disturbed ecosystems.Genius Loci in the Space-Age Andreas Vogler/Arturo Vittori. But the city's art treasures helped it keep its place as a cultural center of the world. Venice lived on a permanent battle against the sea and the salt water. Today these houses. Unfortunately. Adobe houses are cooler than uninsulated homes made of wood or stone. which creeps up the masonery.
The complete globalisation of markets. An adobe village in syria Figure 6. 2. but also a distortion of markets. the use of water is in complete inbalance with nature and turned the region within years into . www. but definitely destroy the genius loci of the place. is creating a strong concentration. and thus a direct relation to nature and its principles is causing dramatic effects. However. Figure 7. Especially the complete disconnection of a majority of people from the production of their own food and their most basic life-support ressources. The greenhouse production allows the formerly poor region a regular source of income. The rehabitation programme for poor people from Jabal-al-Hoss may ease the daily life. The village Jabal-al-Hoss in Syria.architectureandvision. Over centuries human settlements lived on the basis of an ecological footprint. The all-year round production of tomatoes in greenhouses in Andalucia South of Spain serves as an example. which is based on the concept of near free transportation costs.5 Harmony with the Environment as an Incentive of a Genius Loci The special conditions of the Sassi di Matera created a special place as well as in Venice and Syria.com 12 Figure 5.Genius Loci in the Space-Age Andreas Vogler/Arturo Vittori. Only with the industrial revolution this balance changed. which allowed them to maintain the balance of a local food production (agriculture) and settlements from the size of farmhouses up to towns.
The building up of a centralized infrastructure has been a powerful tool for growth and still is. They probably provided the highest amount of envelope surface of all man made stucture. in Africa. if the rain is getting less and less as it happened during the last years. In fact. but we are constantly threaded by energy prices. Maybe the beginning of a new architecture. than maintaining all the facilities necessary to do that. which is more like an intelligent interface. Maybe the architecture as the starting point of the generation of the “genius loci”? 3 The House as the Genius Loci Houses and apartement buildings are fairly dispersed over the planet and usually concentrated. if it rains on my roof? Why should I pay for sewage. On the other hand it is exactly these elements we live from.Genius Loci in the Space-Age Andreas Vogler/Arturo Vittori. Houseowners know the increasing prices of utilities costs. the effect of this mass production is not only affecting the ecosystem in Andalucia. They ask themselves questions like: Why should I pay for energy for electricity and heat. This would radically change the concept of architecture. that people are occupied with other things. Most of today’s houses are passive envelopes supported by the consumption of energy to protect the inhabitants against the energies and elements of nature. It is a process which is hard to reverse. The question is: Can we employ modern technology to make these systems cheap and easy to use? This will be a challenge for our future. Houses would become like plants. that live ‘with’ nature and not against it. which has an easy play to attack centralized systems. but costly and labour intensive. So. or the sudden lack of it by collapsing infrastructure. wars and terrorism. The facilities even are available. if I could fertilize my plants? Why should I pay for fresh food. Many farmers face the end of their production. but even more severe. that tomatoes from Andalucia are underpricing locally grown vegetable on African markets. if I could grow it in my garden? Well. clean the air and collect energy from the sun in a fairly decentralized manner. which is based on a more profound understanding of the human interaction and relationship with nature and the place. The goal would be to make houses. make our societies very vulnerable. where the highest degree of environmental pollution is generated on a daily basis: in and around the cities. but which may suddenly collapse with a steep increase of energy and utility prices. Even more bizarre is the fact. that filters and processes the utilities. On the other hand . www. resource shortage.com 13 a desert. we know. if some 550 Watts per square meter reach my ground from the sun? Why should I pay for water. Surface. moving it away from its shelter and protection function to an open receptive one. which can be used to collect rainwater. who specifically react on the environment and the availability of resources. where even the poorest farmers can’t beat the prices with their hand-grown vegetable. the strong dependency of our whole industries and also personal lives from centralised infrastructure and low energy prices.architectureandvision.
building material and other consumables. polluting entities into energy producing. as we have done in the not-so-distant past. the average "earthshare" available to each human citizen is approximately 1. or even how much." Furthermore.5 gha per head (Rees.9 gha per capita. This state of excessive ecological burden eventually threatens those very ecosystems by not allowing them sufficient time to "recharge. . which we face cannot be defeated with large scale interventions. let’s say a 4-person Swiss family in a single family house with a footprint of 100 square metre would have to provide this area for a self-sustaining live. But it is not only surface area which is a problem. But even. if by tomorrow all cars. 3.1 The ecological footprint Ecological footprint analysis approximates the amount of ecologically productive land and sea area required to sustain a population. 3.architectureandvision. If. industries and power plants would be emission free. The US average footprint is 9. which would create noise and high turbulences. For example. 1992). cleaning ones seems an obvious idea. This time element helps us understand that it's not just what we use. www. The ecological footprint approach can introduce the concept of resource recharge and the rate at which we use resources as key elements in more sustainable human societies. humans can clearly live without nonrenewable resources such as metals or fossil fuels. whilst China's is circa 1. not of nonrenewable ones. manufacture a product. air condition.Genius Loci in the Space-Age Andreas Vogler/Arturo Vittori. To turn houses from energy consuming. food. Naturally. typically convert this into a measure of land area expressed in 'global hectares' (gha) per capita. it is the human use of renewable resources. that poses the real sustainability crisis. Contrary to many assumptions. The calculations used.5 gha per capita. not to mention the pollution created by heating. Artificially ventilating the Smog out of Mexico City would require tremendous jet engines.com 14 housing is responsible for 50 percent of the world’s energy use. also the time natural processes need. sometimes. Humans consistently and increasingly consume renewables faster than ecosystems can restore them. they would have to live in a 1600-storey. It is a way of determining relative consumption for the purpose of educating people about their resource use and. It is the renewable resource base on which we and all species depend.2 The ecological accelerator Today environmental problems. household waste etc. but how fast. the destruction must be stopped at the very source. by accounting the use of energy. water. Nature can restore renewable resources at a certain rate. Ecological footprints have been used to argue that current lifestyles are not sustainable. and that of Switzerland 4 gha. and over what period of time. triggering them to alter their consumption. or undertake certain activities. 4800m high skyscraper. we still may suffer the environmental effects caused 50 years ago.
Current climate reports (European Environment Agency 2004) are showing the need to act. Before the industrial revolution the human settlements were mostly integrated into nature.architectureandvision. Currently houses consume 50% of the world’s energy. that only a further development of innovative. If they would produce at the same rate. Figure 8. would allow us to make the house an active part of the environment like a tree (Figure 9). the environment and its interactions has considerably changed in the last decades. We also have to consider. There are no advanced processes of these resources happening in the house. With the fast growth of the industrialized society this balance went out of order. being powered by wind and solar energy. that the way we perceive technology. www. They mostly exclude the freely available in-situ resources. Figure 9. Their intake are clean processed resources and their outlet is usually waste and sewage. low-energy consuming environmental technologies can lead us forward. They are merely diluted and mixed together and reach an inferior process state. The natural environment was big enough to keep the system stable. which need treatment. on the other hand we realized.Genius Loci in the Space-Age Andreas Vogler/Arturo Vittori.com 15 Starting to use the tremendously dispersed stock of houses on our planet. may have a positive effect on the long term. The understanding of the house as a processing and producing machine. The balancing systems have now to be integrated into the house by means of technology (Figure 10 & Figure 11). By their decentralized location. Today houses are consuming devices. On the one hand the technological development considerably harms the environment. . connected to an costly infrastructure (Figure 8). This would give the house a considerable added value. which can be used for personal mobility. A „consuming“ model of the house. not only to stop polluting our environment. Technology would allow that the house converts the intake of dirty air and polluted water into clean air and potable water. A „producing“ model of the house as machine. no power plants would be needed. Even excess energy could be produced. but to actively clean it. especially houses are most adequate to be the source of this environmental balancing for the future generations. processing energies and matters to achieve a desireable output.
architectureandvision. the adaptation was natural. 2004)) to a group of software programmers. which cannot be made up by even the most sophisticated infrastructure. Diagram of a Human Habitat for Mars: Nature needs to be fully integrated as a technical system.com 16 Figure 10. 3. a ressource. The system ‚House’ before the industrial revolution: Integrated into the ecosystem provided by nature. Space Habitats have to minimize the loss . since control over resources is a strong element of power. Christopher Alexander. (The diagram shown is based on current NASA Mission plans. there is also a strong political element in this. as cited in Gupta. so that the whole thing would effectively then generate itself. Waste should be not existant anymore. he commented that: "In traditional society where lay people either built or laid out their own houses. the father of pattern languages defined the Leapfrog opportunity by using local resources ten years ago. So. can also bring the control over the environment back into the hands of the people. but also to do it in a fashion which could be in everybody's hands."There Ain't No Such Thing As A Free Lunch" Robert Heinlein in "The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress" It has been shown before. It occurred successfully because it was in the hands of the people that were directly using the buildings and streets. people were able to generate a complete living structure. their own streets." Obviously. Figure 11. which existed in traditional society. the production of environment has gone out of the hands of people who use the environment. one of the efforts of the pattern language was not merely to try and identify structural features which would make the environment positive or nurturing. perhaps knowingly. and so on. In our own time. www. So.and output. The new approach of spacemen technological thinking. In his lecture in San Jose (1996.) Source: NASA.3 Towards a New Generative Architecture TANSTAAFL . where waste is still part of the system.Genius Loci in the Space-Age Andreas Vogler/Arturo Vittori. that houses are merely more than diluters of matter and energy and are dependent on a fairly high in. with the help of the shared pattern languages.
to investigate the use of space technologies for inflatable tents in hot regions (European Space Agency.architectureandvision.com/air. However. www. In addition to the plants.2 DesertSeal Another example is the project ‚DesertSeal’.com 17 of matter and create closed-loop autonomous Life Support Systems. The BioHome was used for a variety of experiments into. 2005) . where a total of 107 Volatile Organic Concentrators (VOC) were offgassed by synthetic materials that comprised the SL-3. Figure 13. The tent has been the result of a study performed by Architecture+Vision for the European Space Agency ESA. The NASA BioHome project. which were measured using mass spectrometer / gas chromatograph equipment. Crop Growth and Air Purification. Harvesting Drinking Water. as it was a part of research into closed ecological life support systems. (sources: Wikipedia and http://www. which is making use of local energies for cooling itself (Figure 14). The BioHome itself resembles a mobile home in size where it contained a living area and treatment facilities for human waste and air. One of the influences of the project being the results from data obtained on the 1973 Skylab 3 (SL-3).1 NASA BioHome The BioHome was a small. Construction of the BioHome was concluded in 1989 and construction materials included synthetics which gave off the aforementioned VOCs.3. quite low-tech facility created by NASA that could support one person in a fully functional habitat. The BioHome had living facilities that could support one person and foliage plants were placed throughout the structure.3. 2005). and including: Wastewater Treatment by the use of plants. a prototype fan-assisted plant filter was installed. The facility is still in use and has paved inroads into creating self-supporting life support systems (BioHome. a tent for hot-arid climates. 3. Figure 12. the study of indoor air quality was not the only focus of the project.Genius Loci in the Space-Age Andreas Vogler/Arturo Vittori. the filter had the removal capacity of 15 standard potted plants.wolvertonenvironmental. The BioHome was equipped with monitoring ports for the detection of VOCs. aiding in air purification.htm) 3. how the study of nature and a fairly low-tech support of existing capabilities of nature can increase the desired effect. Indoor plants were used to clean the air of the BioHome. Two examples shall show.
www. It has an awning in silver-coated high-strength textile to reflect the heat and provide protection from direct sunshine.Genius Loci in the Space-Age Andreas Vogler/Arturo Vittori. The Desert Seal tent is collecting cooler air at higher levels. the desert ground radiates heat off to space and is quickly reaching temperatures below zero degree Celsius. Cooler air is blown into the tent form the top by a solar-powered electric fan. During the day. on higher levels it stays considerably warmer. During the night. (Source: Architecture+Vision) The tent consists of an air beam structure made of polyethylene-coated material.architectureandvision. The L-shaped tent allows upright entry and also minimises the aerodynamic load. while just 2-3 metres above it can be 40°C lower (Figure 14). 2. Desert Seal is making use of the specific temperature curve found in the desert. The fan is powered by batteries charged by flexible solar panels mounted outside the tent (Figure 17). In fact. A wind scoop tower in the historical city of Bam.26 m above the ground. During the day. also traditional persian buildings have been using this effect (Figure 15) as well as animals like the camel with its high legs and high nose (Figure 16). thus reducing the temperature inside the tent. constantly blows cooler air inside. Figure 14. the temperature can easily reach 60°C and beyond at ground level.com 18 Desert Seal is designed specifically for hot arid environments where the air becomes considerably cooler the more distant it is from the Earth’s surface. Iran Figure 16. Figure 15. an electric fan in the top of the tent. (Source: Architecture+Vision) . Since air is acting as a good insulator. The fan on top is now running on batteries and blowing warmer air into the tent.
A . a genius loci. This is opening the potential to generate places with identity. A new understanding of the house as an active regenerative contributor to the local ecosystem and the intelligent use of passive and active devices will likely generate a new kind of architecture.Genius Loci in the Space-Age Andreas Vogler/Arturo Vittori.com 19 Figure 17. The NASA BioHome project employed inhouse plants for wastewater treatment. Desert Seal has a heat reflecting silver-coated awning and uses a flexible solar cell to power the fan on top.architectureandvision. The individuality of the place with special environmental conditions will be in one kind or another visible in the architecture. They should clean the air. crop growth and air purification. harvesting drinking water. collect and purify water. (Source: Architecture+Vision) The tent is making use of environmental energies. but also physically. There will be eventually no need for a centralized infrastructure. 3. This trend will continue as technology and especially environmental technology is developing. this may not be enough. www. As technology evolves more design ideas suddenly become possible. produce energy and fresh vegetable and food for our daily needs. but regarding the expected development of the world’s climate. This only has become possible by recent developments in lightweight flexible solar panels and high capacity batteries. Houses will be in active exchange with their local ecosystems.4 Conclusion The building technology sector has been increasing constantly through the last decades and is already reaching 40-50 percent of the costs of a building. if not just the technological aspect. but all phenomena of a place are taken into account. Buildings of the future should not only visually improve the environment. 4 The Mercury House Programme The reduction of the energy use of buildings and their eventual self-sufficiency is an important objective.
by making economic water and energy recovering systems available. but also the developing world. The MercuryHouse concept is a reaction on the vast landuse of the single-family home. The mass market of the homebuilding industry will benefit not only the domestic economy. The organisation is vertical . which integrates modern technology developments to make a place better not worse. www. This scheme looks into the future. 20 years from now first human beings may be one Mars. Most of the housekeeping tasks will be made or supported by small robots. The rich western world can develop these houses and thus keep its technology lead. advanced life-support systems to become independent from public infrastructure. modern lifestyle in active exchange with the environment and creation of a genius loci by a modern approach.Genius Loci in the Space-Age Andreas Vogler/Arturo Vittori.architectureandvision.like a tree . Informed by the requirements for Human long-duration spaceflight. when children are older their natural drive for climbing and experiencing the 3rd dimension is given. need to be developed urgently. The programme is understood as prototype development.with a musclepowered lift. houses. Furniture is all integrated as in a yacht or aircraft. is one of a series of prototype houses. The big wheels allow the transport and fast removal in case of emergencies situations like floods or hurricans. the Mercury House Programme is researching for an architecture. The house would become an active part of the ecosystem. The MercuryHouseTwo (Figure 18) presented here. energy provision for in-house use and mobility. The dependency on centralized infrastructure makes a community very vulnerable like recent power blackouts showed. . On Earth. The house would become the technological equivalent of the tree. collect their own water and recycle most of the waste of their inhabitants. This concept is followed by the ‘Mercury House Programme’ of Architecture+Vision. actively cleaning the air and water around it. Systems will run on low energy needs and will be small and lightweight. Core objectives are prefabrication as well as in-situ resource utilisation. Small children monitoring systems are built-in and. The revolution of materials fostered with nanotechnology will result in an evolution of the architecture and a change of the paradigm of the house. exploration of modern materials and shapes. fully autonomous energy and life support systems will be developed. The inhouse research programme is taking the house as a platform for technology development. supported by robots and LED lights can become the ‘green lung’ of a house. To get there. A robot-maintained greenhouse is growing fresh food.com 20 more compact vertical arrangement of plants. The house comes prefabricated out of the factory. which are energy independant.
Genius Loci in the Space-Age Andreas Vogler/Arturo Vittori. There are different disperse developments in space expleoration and food industry. compost waste and provide food. The water is provided by a local service or can be collected on-site. The development of the greenhouse technology to provide a safe biogenerator for a house or apartment building. pulled by a truck (Figure 19). . The development of a biogenerative greenhouse system into garden house size or rooftop size will generate a big market and have a highly positive effect on the environment. pro-active environmental systems and interactive. The sharply rising costs for energy. It is pulled up in vertical position by ropes. water tanks integrated into the hull are filled with water to add weight and heat storage. water and waste. as well as the wish of houseowners to become independent will open a big market for autonomous systems in the Western societies. The greenhouse can provide several important functions. The plants can clean water.com 21 Figure 18. When it is standing. thus minimizing the transportation weight of the house. The house is transported on its own wheels. which is maintained by robots. robot-supported environments. The house comes with an inflatable greenhouse as shown in Figure 20 and Figure 21. 2004).architectureandvision. www. but none directed to the building technology market. Credit: Architecture+Vision. The Fraunhofer Institute recently predicted a substantially growing market on passive houses in the next 10 to 15 years (Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy. The greenhouse can collect heat in winter and provide cooling in summer. Figure 19: Diagram showing transportation and deployment of the MercuryHouseTwo. Two side legs further ensure high stability of the house. There is a clear trend of houses becoming self-sufficient again. is a very interesting challenge. which does not need concrete foundations. air. MercuryHouseTwo is a concept house by Architecture+Vision introducing mobility.
Figure 21: Plan view of MercuryHouseTwo with inflatable greenhouse and electric car. As soon as this temperature is higher the glass becomes translucent and is blocking out further heat intake by the sun. Vertical circulation is provided by a muscle-powered lift. With the wheels of the house.com 22 Figure 20: Elevation of the MercuryHouseTwo with the inflatable greenhouse on the left. It is conceived to operate with a chrome-vanadium coating. The MercuryHouseTwo in its current concept has a big glazed front. The building is organized vertically with minimized spaces (Figure 22). the light and/or the view desired. the house can be turned on it own wheels to adjust and optimize the passive solar energy intake. which can be set on a specific room temperature. it can be turned into the sun or away from it. This technology is currently in the laboratories.architectureandvision. depending on the energy intake. than in a house.Genius Loci in the Space-Age Andreas Vogler/Arturo Vittori. It is more understood like living in a boat. www. . Alternatively.
if seen from space. The places have a special spirit of their inhabitant being in balance and harmony with the environment. The ground floor has a storage room and a living room. The toilets only use minimum water for direct cleaning. Water is collected over the roof of the greenhouse and pre-cleaned over the plant system. which are the opposite of a genius loci. Humidity of liquid and solid human waste is ventilated off into an air-cleaning recovery system in the greenhouse.architectureandvision. Electricity is gained by combined solar and wind power and stored in fuel cells or other technology available. www. Venice and Syrian Adobe houses along many others. whose fragility becomes apparent. The needs for power and transportation of the modern societies has been creating places. Fresh air is provided through the greenhouse. The air outlet is controllable near the beds and living room to provided fresh air near to the people. . Examples are the city of Matera. This system has been creating imbalance from the beginning. The upper floors contain the bedrooms with bathroom or shower and toilet. which allows several people to sit together and look into the landscape. The house itself has a graywater cycle feeding dishwasher and washing machine. Large scale pollution is not only affecting our atmosphere. which can be expressed with the term ‘genius loci’. Exhaust air is collected through the composting toilets and lead over a series of green filters into the greenhouse. The powerful growth induced by the industrial revolution has been based on the principles of concentration and the assumption of unlimited resources.Genius Loci in the Space-Age Andreas Vogler/Arturo Vittori.com 23 which is minimizing space requirement compared to a staircase and is offering personal fitness training. On the first floor is a small kitchen and a dining room. The high oxygen production of the plants during the morning is used and the oxygen rich air is buffered to be lead into the house during the rest of the day. 5 Conclusion The connection of people to places and their cultural interaction with their environments has created over centuries very special places and habitats. Figure 22: Selected plans and section of the MercuryHouseTwo. Through spaceflight we start to see the limits of our blue planet.
. If the large mass of houses can gradually turn from consuming and polluting devices into producing and cleaning ones. small volume and energy-effective. but the whole ecosystem of the planet. as well as spaceflight could benefit from proven systems running on Earth. The objective of the programme is not just to develop the technological basis for a fully autonomous house. given the fact. Especially houses can take an active role in this. eventually creating a place with identity and character. www. The MercuryHouse Programme is a technology development platform and research programme to these systems in private houses with open-minded clients. which are light-weight.architectureandvision. aerospace and shipbuilding market in volume all together. that a modern genius loci could be created. not just to benefit the house owners. but in the hands of responsible house owners and a large scale market.com 24 It is argued in this paper. by a holistic understanding of the phenomena ‘place’ and its ecosystem and an intelligent interaction with it. a genius loci. Thus.Genius Loci in the Space-Age Andreas Vogler/Arturo Vittori. but also to develop the architecture and the quality of the user-interaction with these systems and the natural environment. Human Space Exploration is making clear the necessity and difficulty of creating fully autonomous life support systems. The modern house can benefit from these developments. the change for the better would not be in the hands of committees and nations. that the housebuilding market is the surpassing the automotive.
2005. European Space Agency. Pranke (Eds. Space concepts improve life in the desert. Norberg-Schulz.). www. Phenomenology. and Architecture: a review of the literature. (1961). Genius Loci. 2006. A. Place.int/esaCP/SEM0TB6Y3EE_index_0. 2005. (1982). & L. Washington. from http://news. R. Environment.1966. October 20. Being and Time. Stgt.esa. M. January 20)..com 25 6 Bibliography: BioHome (2005). (2004). In W. (2004). London: W.wikipedia.Genius Loci in the Space-Age Andreas Vogler/Arturo Vittori. New York: Bantham Books .11.Emerging Technology in the New Developing World.stm Seamon.html Heidegger. New York: Harcourt. (1981). 103-132. “Enormous Potential for Passive and LowestEnergy Houses”. (2003). Italian cave city goes hi-tech..).html Starke. Physiology of Spaceflight. New York. Gupta. D. The Economics of the Coming Spaceship Earth.org/wiki/BioHome Boulding.com/archives/001408.2006.html Eliade. K. (1962).2006.). Switching Sides ... Human Spaceflight: Mission Analysis and Design (pp. & Coulter. Sixth Resources for the Future Forum on Environmental Quality in a Growing Economy. from http://www.C. (1999). Norton Company.org/boulding/spaceship. L.html Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy. Lebensraum. October 20). The sacred and the profane. Rees. R.bbc. Retrieved 11. D.com/articles/seamon1. from http://en. New York: McGraw-Hill & Co. Reed.Leapfrog Nations . K. Retrieved January 25. (2006. Larson. J. M. from http://www. E. from http://www.worldchanging. Impacts of Europe's changing climate.panarchy. Baukunst. C. W. D. (Ed. (2002). Toffler. G. Landschaft. Retrieved May 23. Luxembourg: Office for Official Publications of the European Communities.1966. Klett-Cotta. Retrieved 2005. (1966).architectureandvision. Retrieved 11. State of the World 2003 [A Worldwatch Institute Report on Progress Toward a Sustainable Society]. European Environment Agency. March 8. from http://www..co.11. The Third Wave. (2005. Freiburg: Fraunhofer. BBC News. An indicatorbased assessment (EEA Report No 2/2004). (2004).uk/1/hi/world/europe/4616480. Retrieved December 14.W. (1992) Ecological footprints and appropriated carrying capacity: what urban economics leaves out Environment and Urbanisation Vol 4 no 2 Oct 1992 Sandford. (Press Release 06/04).phenomenologyonline. New York: Harper & Row.
com 26 7 Appendix The design company ‘Architecture and Vision’ was founded by Italian architect Arturo Vittori and his Swiss colleague Andreas Vogler. structures to enhance the beauty of nature and spaces to inspire people generating their own visions. We set off to work for clients. which can compare to the technology and design strategies used in modern vehicles and electronic equipment. Our vision is to design buildings to clean the environment. who want to live and work in efficient and exciting buildings. both sharing a background in Aerospace Design.architectureandvision.Genius Loci in the Space-Age Andreas Vogler/Arturo Vittori. www. but also to employ our knowledge for developing countries. . where housing and hygiene are a major issue.
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